The Downside of Free Internet Software

When I got back from Indonesia, I created a private site on Ning for those who had been on my tour. Using the site, we email each other, exchange photos and organize our volunteer efforts to support Orangutan Foundation International. Our discussions are organized around such topics as recruiting for the Communications Officer, organizing the next tour, and fundraising, fundraising, fundraising.

On September 3rd, the Ning messaging server crashed. I remained calm throughout the episode, being well-accustomed to server crashes. But I was rather surprised when the server came back up minus two days of our group’s email. I sent an email to the Ning help desk inquiring as to the status of our emails. Here is the reply I received:

From: Ning Help Center []
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2009 7:00 PM
To: Susan Labandibar
Subject: re: After your messaging server crashed, our group lost all of i.. [ ref:00D8cCLt.50048U0MV:ref ]

Hey There!

Unfortunately, do to the way in which messaging went down we weren’t able to grab these messages. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We’ve since put some things in place to mitigate this from happening in the future.

Please let me know if there’s anything else.


As an English major, I take umbrage at this email. First, there is the question of tone. You have just lost my email. Do NOT begin your email with the salutation: “Hey there!”

Second, I would have appreciated it if “Mr. Alex” could have at least formulated a grammatical sentence to inform me of the bad news. Of the three sentences in his main paragraph, two are egregiously wrong. “Unfortunately, do to the way in which messaging went down we weren’t able to grab these messages.” May I suggest, Mr. Alex, that you meant to say “due to the way in which messaging went down?” By the way, I love the way you write of a server going down, and the failure to “grab” the messages. It’s as though the server was literally falling through space and the Ning staff was helplessly trying to nab these messages as they fluttered away. Perhaps, instead of reaching out to grab the messages, you should have backed them up prior to the server crash?

I would also like to point out that, in the next sentence you promise that you will “mitigate this from happening in the future.” Well, Alex, that’s just swell. I hope you can mitigate yourself from being on unemployment, because that’s where I would put you if you ever worked on my help desk.


Susan Labandibar

P.S. I just checked my mailbox and the emails are back! Guess those butterfly nets that they used to grab the messages worked after all!

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